A beautiful mid-autumn day, just the day for a Sunday drive in the country. At least that's what former journalist Art Parker; his wife, Dr. Marsha Parker; their sixteen-year-old adopted daughter, Mary Ann Markham; and her best friend, Jennifer Martin, think when they visit a hilltop in the western part of Mercer County that contains a Christmas tree farm; an old, apparently abandoned mansion; and... a corpse. If that isn't bad enough, after reporting the corpse to Jennifer's uncle, Sheriff's Deputy J.J. McClure, the girls decide they want to disregard the "No Trespassing" sign and explore the mansion's interior--several times. As usual, they discover more dead bodies. Add to that a couple of kidnappings and a cache of smuggled goods, and they're lucky to escape with their lives before they finally discover the real murderer at a most unexpected location.
Cape Cod is magical at any time of year. However, many permanent residents, including sisters Rachel and Beth Brewster, find it hard to make ends meet during the cold, lonely winter months, which is why they must work extra-long hours at multiple jobs all through the short summer season to save enough for the rest of the year. To complicate matters, Beth is only fifteen and is restricted as to how many hours she can work during the school year. It wouldn't be so bad if their mother weren't an alcoholic who absolutely refuses to help with the bills. Then the dead bodies begin cropping up in the neighborhoods and marshes surrounding scenic Lewis Bay. The Yarmouth and Barnstable Police begin to see a pattern linking both Rachel and Beth to the murders, but they can't seem to assemble enough proof to make an arrest. Meanwhile, a regular patron of a bar where Rachel frequently works in the evening provides some help in the young woman's search for a better-paying job, and life becomes hell for Beth as she is stalked by several teenage boys who have their own ideas about what constitutes a loving relationship.
The butler did it, or maybe he didn't. It's summer, and fourteen-year-old Mary Ann Markham is bored. Then she remembers that her wealthy grandfather just happens to own a rather rundown lake a short distance down the hill from his huge Victorian mansion. She enlists her live-in writing coach, Art Parker, and her friend, Jennifer Martin, to help restore the lake and its surroundings to a thing of beauty, using Grandfather's money, of course. Things get off to a good start--that is until they discover the decomposing body of a teenage girl in the woods. Then there's the butler who likes to stargaze, the local youth hostel that just happens to catch fire while Mary Ann and Art are attending a sing-along there, the two bodies discovered in the ashes of the hostel, and the local sheriff who thinks everybody's guilty of something. While fishing from a boat on the lake Jennifer hooks something big--you guessed it--the nude body of another teenage girl. Suspects abound, but especially the new butler, gardener, and housemaid. Time passes. The girls throw a Halloween party at the mansion for their classmates and then disappear. Now Art, with little help from the local sheriff's department, must try to find them and their abductor before they join the growing list of corpses.
What could be more fun than a day at the beach? A month at the beach, perhaps? That's what teenager Mary Ann Markham, her live-in writing coach Art Parker, and her best friend Jennifer Martin think when Mary Ann convinces her wealthy grandfather to rent a fancy beach house for the entire month of July near the small East Coast town of Shipwreck. But then strange things begin to happen, especially with the appearance of several not very well preserved bodies, an unexpected shooting or two, and a murder with mob overtones. Meanwhile, Art becomes close friends with a local emergency room doctor named Marsha, and he and the girls become somewhat less than close friends with the local police chief, primarily because of the bodies they keep finding. Then Mary Ann and Jennifer disappear shortly before a major hurricane hits the area. Could it be retired mobster "Little" Tony Gambolo, who lives a short distance down the beach, that's behind all these deaths and the disappearance of the girls? Art, with Marsha's help, is at his wits' end trying to find Mary Ann, Jennifer, and the answer to who's behind the killings.
Art Parker, an unemployed journalist, answers an ad for employment, but the ad has few details about what the job entails or where he'll be working. He gets the job after an evening interview at a huge, Victorian-style mansion miles from anywhere. The owner, an incredibly wealthy old man, hires Art as live-in writing coach for his teenage granddaughter. That sounds like an easy, relaxing sort of job, at least until the next afternoon when Art and Mary Ann--she's the granddaughter--find the housemaid dead on the girl's bedroom floor. An out-of-control sheriff, a bizarrely named lawyer, a beautiful librarian, a marvelous cook, and a huge valet/gardener clutter the landscape and add a pile of confusion while Art and Mary Ann decide to do some detecting on their own. What do they turn up? Another body. After enlisting the help of Mary Ann's friend, Jennifer, the unlikely sleuths eventually solve both murders but not before nearly becoming victims themselves.
Fifteen-year-old Mary Ann Markham, and her best friend, Jennifer Martin, decide to host an innocent Halloween party for some schoolmates at the Victorian mansion of Mary Ann's wealthy grandfather. Her live-in writing coach, Art Parker, and his fiancee, Marsha Brown, M.D., have joined the other party attendees in a rather complicated treasure hunt when the game is interrupted by the discovery of a very dead body in a cave. After Mary Ann and Jennifer are nearly killed in a school bus accident another body is found in the cave, and then two more, but what makes things even more bizarre is the presence of symbols indicative of black magic. While the local sheriff's department seems stymied, Art, Marsha, and the two girls join a local hiking club, thinking maybe its members are somehow involved in the murders. However, instead of finding the murderer or murderers they discover another body in the cave. Things go from bad to worse, with Mary Ann, Jennifer, Art, and Marsha all in line to be victims before the mystery is solved.
What could be more fun than a deer hunting trip to the mountains near Prescott, Arizona in November, 1895? At least it seems that way to Southern Pacific Railroad Detective Pima Gallagher, his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Scout Walker, and several other family members and friends until one of the group ends up with a knife in the back. Complicating matters are a howling blizzard and the sudden appearance of three murdering outlaws. With Pima slogging through the snow chasing outlaws and Scout hot on Pima's trail things go from bad to worse until Pima and Scout's survival hangs by a thread. Back home in Tucson with the original murder unsolved, Scout, afraid she's going to be accused of the murder, runs away to a nearby mission to hide. Finally, everything is resolved but not until after a confession of murder from a most unexpected source.
A body falls off a train during a heavy downpour near Tucson, Arizona in late January of 1895. As the rain ends, the wagons of a traveling medicine show arrive in town with performers to entertain and a doctor of questionable credentials to peddle his wares. Pima Gallagher, a detective for the Southern Pacific Railroad, assisted, or at least she thinks so, by Scout Walker, his eleven-year-old stepdaughter, try to learn the identity of the corpse and whether its sudden appearance has anything to do with the nearly simultaneous arrival of Dr. Blenheim's show. Meanwhile, Pima's brother and sister, back in his home state of Mississippi, are causing him a great deal of concern with their letters about brother Jefferson's deteriorating health. Eventually things come to a satisfactory conclusion, but not before more murder and mayhem manage to put Pima and Scout in fear for their lives in the mountains and desert areas between Tucson and Phoenix.
Southern Pacific Railroad Detective Pima Gallagher is asked by the Santa Fe Railroad to help track down who might be smuggling whiskey to the huge Navajo Reservation. When he suddenly disappears, Pima's stepdaughter, fifteen-year-old Scout Walker, convinces her mother, Ellen, to travel with her to Winslow, Arizona to find Pima and help him in his search. At the same time, Scout decides to begin writing her memoirs with assistance from an English author they meet in Winslow, a waitress at the local Harvey House Restaurant is found murdered, Pima spends some time in the painted desert as the unhappy guest of a mysterious person, and a deserting soldier and an itinerant peddler become prime smuggling suspects. Everything comes to an end with a gun battle in the as-yet-unprotected Petrified Forest.
Art and Marsha Parker finally have a chance to get away for a week from Marsha's medical clinic in the small town of Bearford to visit a plush resort for a honeymoon, a gift from their wealthy benefactor, Charles Drummond. Somehow their adopted sixteen-year-old daughter, Mary Ann Markham, who is also Drummond's granddaughter, and Mary Ann's best friend, Jennifer Martin, manage to convince the old man that Art and Marsha need chaperoning, so the two girls show up at the resort at the end of the first week, ostensibly to notify Art and Marsha that they've been booked for another week but really to investigate a corpse--soon to be two--discovered at the foot of a high waterfall on the resort's property. With their usual lack of good luck, all four get involved with searching for counterfeit fifty-dollar bills. Then Art, Mary Ann, and Jennifer manage to get themselves kidnapped by three thugs while attempting some unauthorized detective work on their own. While Marsha, inspired by the waterfalls at the resort, convinces Drummond to build a trail to an overlook for a waterfall on his property, the search for the counterfeiters goes on. Art, Mary Ann, and Jennifer keep getting themselves in more and more trouble until Art and Mary Ann come up with a brainstorm that finally leads them to the head of the counterfeiting ring and almost to their own deaths.